The Black Caucus of Health Workers (BCHW) is an independent organization, officially affiliated with the American Public Health Association (APHA). BCHW was organized to serve as a catalyst for influencing the recognition of the healthcare needs of Black people in America by APHA and other health-related organizations.
Dear BCHW members, Public Health Colleagues and Friends,
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of one of our fore-fathers’ and founders of the Black Caucus of Health Workers, Dr. Bailus Walker. We would like to take this time to recognize his contributions to BCHW and the world. Please click the link below to view our tribute letter to Dr. Bailus Walker.
🕊The Black Caucus of Health Workers commemorates the life and legacy of U.S. Representative and Civil Rights Icon, John Lewis. A true American Hero, who was an influential figure in the landmark 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Lewis was further influential on the Congressional House floor, protesting inaction on gun control, racism, violence, and police abuse of power. He was a notable member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and had a U.S. naval ship named in his honor in 2019. Rest in Power, John Lewis, may the next generation continue in your footsteps and pickup the torch of change.
Statement in Support of Black Lives Matter and Ending Systemic Racism
As the Black Caucus of Health Workers, we stand emphatically with Black people all over the world who cry out “Black Lives Matter.” We are ANGRY!!!! Our spirits are broken; we are disheartened and we will not accept these blatant acts of discriminatory racism. It is indeed time to take a stand! Stand in a protest, stand to fight for equality, stand to vote, stand, and let our voices be heard; we as Black people will no longer be the “knee-rest” to white supremacy. We will not allow or accept the repeated abuse of power, highly decorated by white privilege, that has been openly paraded over the years by those expected to enforce the law. The Black Caucus of Health Workers urges our local, state, and federal legislative and congressional constituents to move swiftly toward justice and accountability.
Four hundred and fifty-six hours – that is the span of time between two senseless and brutal murders of Black men; George Floyd, May 25, 2020, and Rayshard Brooks, June 12, 2020. RACISM has reared its ugly head within our society, to manifest as the modern-day lynchings of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, and countless others. RACISM operates behind the veil of policies and practices that are the cornerstones of the violence and injustice against Black communities.
BCHW supports APHA Executive Director, Dr. Georges Benjamin’s statement to its membership: “Racism is a longstanding systemic structure in this country that must be dismantled, through brutally honest conversations, policy changes and practices . . . At the American Public Health Association, every moment of our waking hours is poured into finding better, more healthful lives for all, so everyone has a chance to breathe. It’s our life-blood.”
In reflection of Dr. Benjamin’s words, we are calling for collective action. The load of multiple pandemics, amongst the physical, mental, environmental, and economic violence perpetrated against us weighs heavily on our lives. We demand collective action and call for change in support of Black lives!
The overt actions by individuals to oppress or discriminate against Black people. Challenge racism that manifests as acceptance of Black inferiority, because Black Lives Matter. Call out racism that operates in systems that you support every day.
-The systems that serve to the detriment of black people.
-The systems that drive health inequities and create disadvantages in our homes, schools, work, and communities.
-Specifically, demand systems of care and the people that represent these systems.
-Assess and amend policies and practices that disproportionately burden Black people.
Hold Leaders Accountable
Hold all elected officials, legislators, city council members, aldermen, student governments, judges, school board officials, executive leadership, union leaders, and faith leaders accountable to fight for and protect the health and well-being of Black constituents.
Support Black Lives
Protect Black lives–every stage of life, in all of its diversity, and in education and memory. Invest in Black businesses and innovation through sales, funding, and procurement. Preserve Black communities and cultures by remembering the contributions of Black people who built this country, facilitating social determinants that build healthy lives, respecting the people.
VOTE VOTE VOTE!!
Voting in local and national elections gives you the power to put people in office that will advocate for change. Encourage your colleagues, family, and friends to register and vote! Be educated on the candidates such that you can make an intelligent decision at the polls. Work to challenge and eliminate practices that result in voter suppression such as removing polling places in Black neighborhoods, gerrymandering, and voter identification laws that make it difficult for Blacks to vote.
There have been far too many acts of violence committed against Black people and Black communities. We can no longer stand by and allow law enforcement officers to senselessly kill Black people and not be held accountable. Structural and institutional racism has been an issue in the United States for far too long. We live in a society that is inundated with systemic racism, fundamentally unequal, where Black people are treated differently because of the color of their skin. This stops now!
We must work towards change! Change that enforces the laws that prohibit education, housing, and employment discrimination. It is imperative that Blacks have equity in health, education, research, policy, and the workforce- these are critical components to success. Both protocols and deterrents need to be put in place to avoid further discriminatory acts and the unnecessary loss of life.
BCHW joins in solidarity with the collective protest for change. We are not apologetic and will not lose sight of the reason we are ANGRY! Our protests are just and enduring, they align with public health’s most fundamental call to action–to protect and advance the quality of health and longevity of life. We must beat upon the moral compass of society to ensure that society does what is right, because Black Lives Matter!
Dana Reed Wise, MPH, REHS, JD(C)
Veronica Collins, MSL
Barbara J. Norman, Ph.D., MPH, MSPS
Jasmine Ward, Ph.D., MPH, CHES
Kaitlin Grant, MPH
Glahnnia Rates, CHW II
Dana Reed Wise, MPH, REHS
Shanae’ Burch, Ed.M
Thometta Cozart, MS, MPH
Marcus Murray, MPH
Dwight Willams, MA
Alexander Kimbrough, MPH
Date: May 29 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: APHA Media Relations, 202-777-3913
Statement from APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD
“I can’t breathe.”
With those last words, George Floyd, an unarmed, handcuffed black man, died this week after being pinned down by a white Minneapolis police officer, an atrocious action that has sparked outrage throughout the nation.
We raise our voices, too, horrified, stunned and angered.
We are appalled but are not surprised by the despicable way Floyd was killed. We weep for the man, his family and a country that continues to allow this to happen. We also join in the chorus for justice and ring the alarm to all Americans. Racism is a longstanding systemic structure in this country that must be dismantled, through brutally honest conversations, policy changes and practices.
Racism attacks people’s physical and mental health. And racism is an ongoing public health crisis that needs our attention now!
We see discrimination every day in all aspects of life, including housing, education, the criminal justice system and employment. And it is amplified during this pandemic as communities of color face inequities in everything from a greater burden of COVID-19 cases to less access to testing, treatment and care.
Americans cannot be silent about this.As Martin Luther King, Jr. observed, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
We refuse to be silent, and we call for you to join us in our advocacy for a healthier nation. At the American Public Health Association, every moment of our waking hours is poured into finding better, more healthful lives for all, so everyone has a chance to breathe. It’s our life-blood.
APHA champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Visit us at www.apha.org.
A novel phrase has emerged from the novel coronavirus pandemic. “We are all in this together,” but in all actuality are we all “really” in this together? Working as a Community Psychologist and studying the impact of disease and inconsistencies, I have always seen a pattern in health care inequities that exists in the U.S. between African Americans and White Americans that is substantial, and with the overlay of the coronavirus and the magnitude of the spread of this virus the inequities have increased.
African American communities, structurally, are now the hub for the spread of the virus because of the lack of good policies in place, needed community resources, existing food deserts, lack of access to health care and the underlying chronic health issues that exist among that population. So, I am not surprised and feel that no one should really be shocked at the fact that African Americans are dying at a higher rate than everyone else from COVID-19. This disparity fact is not new and only shocking to those who’ve historically turned a blind eye to the dilemma of communities of color in this country.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in a speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights in 1966 spoke to this same form of inequality, and injustice in health care and stated that it is the most shocking and inhumane. Don Lemon recently hosted an interview with Senator Kamala Harris about the COVID-19 disparities a few weeks ago. In this interview, Harris echoed that the virus is likely to hurt people of color more due to health disparities and pre-existing conditions.
Furthermore, Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently added local urgency, stating 72 percent of residents dying of COVID in Chicago are African American, a fact that underscores how the gross disproportions that existed with African Americans before COVID-19 now , with the overlay of this virus, contributes to the extreme rates of deaths.
University Park is located in Will County and officials there are closely monitoring the outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. University Park Village is taking every precautionary measure to ensure that the health, safety and welfare of the residents,especially seniors, are protected.
Will County Health Department (WCHD) is working with local healthcare community partners, as well as state and federal agencies. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, as of April 20, there had been: 1,692 confirmed cases, 102 deaths in Will County. Research shows that 16 of the 25 hardest hit towns have primarily African Americans residents: Matteson, Olympia Fields and Richton Park are in the top ten, with Glenwood, Country Club Hills, and Hazel Crest close behind. Keep in mind that these are all communities where a fair number of residents are struggling economically.
I am the health ministry leader at New Beginnings Church of Chicago that is coupled with Project HOOD (Helping Others to Obtain Destiny) a community organization that is housed in an old Walgreen’s building on the Southside of Chicago in one of the zip codes that the Chicago coronavirus map has marked to be one of the greatest concentration areas. At Project HOOD we are have attempting to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 by passing out food and face masks to community members, answering questions and concerns about access to testing, and addressing concerns about this pandemic. Our team along with other community partners are working with Governor J.B. Pritzker and his staff to transform this location into a COVID-19 testing site using the drive through for coronavirus testing. I am focused on expanding public health efforts by developing culturally tailored health education and COVID-19 prevention messaging and other strategies to flatten the curve and save lives in the African American communities
I propose to promote and expand my work in community engagement efforts to work with fellow Governor State University faculty, staff, students and community public figures in Southland and Chicago to expand the critical work in the areas of health education and prevention, testing, data, research, and funding to further address the needs of this impacted population.
This is not the first pandemic and will not be the last.
I plan to cultivate relationships with the Village of University Park and Governors State University to address this glaring pandemic of health care disparities that now exist in our state and country with African Americans in order for us to be proactive instead of reactive and be prepared to face the necessary barriers without the loss of so many lives.
Tonya S. Roberson is the Director of Community Engagement, Program Development and Academic Support at Governors State University in the College of Health and Human Services. She is a public health professional with a particular expertise in methods to address health disparities and inequities utilizing health promotion theories, and models to assess the holistic health of African Americans in the urban centers.
To work to eliminate institutional racism in the healthcare industry and maintain the quality of life for minority groups
To conduct research and implement direct service programs that seek to better understand and improve the African-American community’s health status.
To increase the number of African American health care professionals through targeted recruitment, professional development, and mentoring programs
To monitor and evaluate health data and policy issues at the federal, state, and local levels
“Creating the Healthiest Nation: Preventing Violence” San Francisco, Oct. 24-28, 2020
The APHA 2020 call for abstracts opens in December 2019. We are currently accepting exhibitors and sponsors for APHA 2020. APHA BCHW is accepting abstracts until February 15, 2020.